Council trashes bag-tag bill

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A pay-as-you-throw bag-tag bill for garbage was trashed by the County Council Environmental Management Committee on Thursday, following public opposition.

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A pay-as-you-throw bag-tag bill for garbage was trashed by the County Council Environmental Management Committee on Thursday, following public opposition.

Fifteen people testified against Bill 32, sponsored by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille. The bill would have allowed homeowners to throw out one 33-gallon trash bag a week for free. Additional 15-gallon bags would cost 50 cents and 33-gallon bags would cost $1, under the plan.

Wille withdrew the bill without comment.

A second bill, Bill 33, prohibiting the disposal of any compostable or recyclable material at area landfills or transfer stations, allowing some commercial green waste to be dumped at transfer stations and trucking more of East Hawaii trash to the West Hawaii landfill at Puuanahulu, was postponed.

Wille said she wanted more time for the public to understand amendments to the bill before the council committee votes.

Puna Councilman Danny Paleka said recommendations such as bag tags would best be used if a mandatory garbage collection system were first established. He noted that 25 percent of households on the mainland have a pay-as-you-throw garbage policy.

People would recycle more and recycling could become profitable if transfer stations had more convenient hours and separate bins for plastic, glass by color, green waste and other types of refuse, some speakers said. They recommended that the county should increase public education and promote alternatives to throwing out waste.

They said charging people to throw out garbage will increase illegal dumping.

“If it’s gonna save them a buck, it’s going to go out the window along the road,” said Jim Cole, testifying from Kona.

Dan Sable, also testifying from Kona, urged the council to listen to experts rather than experimenting with short-term solutions.

“We need to stop putting Band Aids on a very large wound that’s only getting bigger, more complicated and it isn’t going away,” Sable said.

But one member of the public supported the bill, saying the measure would encourage recycling and bring equity to the county’s garbage service.

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“When the cost of managing trash is hidden in taxes or charged at a flat rate, residents who recycle and prevent waste subsidize their neighbors’ wastefulness,” said Cory Harden, quoting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The county had briefly in 2009 considered charging people to throw away their garbage, but Mayor Billy Kenoi put a stop to it after a public outcry. Kauai has a similar program that was scheduled to take effect July 1.

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